Snaps and smørrebrød
The crew reunites in Copenhagen
“What do you do with a drunken sailor?” goes the famous sea shanty. But this weekend the song could have been augmented a bit to: “What do you do with the drunken sailors?” Because on Saturday night I found myself in a whole roomful of them, and I, in fact, was also one of them.
Here in Copenhagen my host Rasmus and I threw a party for the 2016 sailing crew of S/Y Christianshavn up his fourth-floor Nørrebro apartment. The theme: “julefrokost,” or Christmas lunch. Since some of the crew was on the ship during Christmas and the rest were traveling back home, our captain, who lives on the fifth floor of Rasmus’ building, proposed we have a proper Christmas party together–despite the fact that Christmas has long since came and went.
We asked everyone to bring a dish or two, and some alcohol, pot-luck or “sammenskuds” style. As guests began arriving with their dishes, it became clear we were in for a huge and heavy meal of fish, meat, cabbage, potatoes and bread. Plus a few bottles of snaps, several cases of beer and some gin and tonic. “No one is allowed to leave until we finish it all,” said scientist and sailor Malene. My eyes flickered over the dinner table. It was going to be a long, long night.
As soon as the party started, a crew member handed me a bottle of beer, some kind of IPA if I remember correctly. Then we sat down to eat, and so then came the snaps–original, pepper-infused and fruity, my Danish crew mates insisted I try all three. All I can say is it’s not my favorite drink, but in the name of tradition I downed the stuff. The only other American there was Kevin, our ship’s engineer. He too seemed a little iffy with the snaps which made me feel less like I was the only julefrokost newbie around.
Foosa lingered nearby, not begging but on the lookout for crumbs dropped accidentally in my/our increasing state of inebriation.
Basically, when you have a julefrokost, you eat pieces of bread topped with stuff. This is called smørrebrød. But you need to put the right stuff on the bread. For example, scientist and sailor Kristian laughed at me when I topped a small piece of brown bread with frikadeller (small pork/veal meatballs), butter, capers, red onion and lox sauce. “It’s all about the right combination,” he said. “Do that in public and you’ll get laughed at.”
Ok, so I learned if you’re going to use the butter, capers, red onion and lox sauce, you need LOX, not frikadeller. Frikadeller goes with potatoes and rødkal (red cabbage). Duh.
Despite some smørrebrød slip-ups, this meal reminded me that sharing food and drinks around a table with good people can be a really wonderful thing. My crew mates and I discussed current events, reminisced about our sailing expedition and planned future get-togethers. After a languorous meal, the drunken sailors hit the dance floor, stomping around to an eclectic mix of pop, hip-hop and rock. It was a great night that didn’t end till the last guests left the apartment at 4am despite there being at least three days of food, three bottles of beer and half a bottle of gin leftover.
When I woke up around noon, I was very, very tired.
So, Rasmus and I took the day slow. We made some lunch. We went for a long, meandering walk with Foosa. I picked up a few souvenirs for my friends back home. It was the perfect way to spend a weekend in Copenhagen.